When it comes to marketing food these days, few buzzwords seem to carry more weight than that simple 6-letter word, “ethics.”
See this story, from the BBC: A new ethical farm opens at Bhaktivedanta Manor
Hare Krishnas at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire have opened a New Cow Protection Centre.
The ethos of the new centre is to treat animals and the environment with the highest respect.
Cows at the New Gokul centre are raised in keeping with the Vedic method where nothing need be harmed to produce ample food for all.
The animals are played relaxing music, are hand milked and allowed to live their natural life span…
The farm’s dedication to animal welfare is what leads them to self-identify as “ethical.” According to a spokesman:
“These people [who will buy it] will know that when they drink this milk, that the cow is going to be living their full natural life span.
“Also, for the first six months, the cow’s calf will be able to suckle from her mother and get her complete fill every day,” he continued, “and then we will take what’s left, so there’s some real ethical farming that we’re trying to promote here….”
Now there’s nothing surprising about the fact that the farm’s operators identify their practices as “ethical.” Most of us do that. And that includes, presumably, the owners of factory farms — they presumably (though controversially) believe that their methods are, on the whole, ethically justifiable. Keep in mind that the word “ethical” isn’t a descriptive term. It’s evaluative. Calling something “ethical” implies a judgment about it. It doesn’t point to a style of farming, but rather to someone thinking that that style of farming is one that meets ethical standards. What’s more surprising here, though, is that the BBC’s headline writers credulously parrot the farm’s self-labelling.